Words that hurt immigrants to Japan

13 regional newspapers across Japan surveyed over 300 gaikokujin immigrants through Line to ask about their daily lives, whether they found satisfaction with their jobs, what they needed assistance with on living in Japan, and whether they wanted to permanently stay. (Half of them do.)

Among the questions were what kinds of hurtful comments they’ve heard from their nihonjin colleagues. “Baka (ばか)”, “smelly (臭い)”, and “black (黒い)” were on the top of the list.

Microaggressions hurt. According to Nishinippon Shimbun:

 「外国人」としてひとくくりにされる言動への違和感も目立った。京都市で自動車部品製造業に就く男性(29)は「さすがタイ人」と言われ、個人として認められていないように感じた。福岡市の男性(26)は「韓国の道はニンニク臭い?」と聞かれた。スペイン語を話す同市の男性(28)は、英語で話しかけられることに抵抗感を覚えると答えた。

Also notable was the incongruity the respondents felt at comments that generalized them as “gaikokujin”. A 29 year old man who works at an automobile parts manufacturer in Kyoto felt that he was not accepted on an individual level when he was told, “As expected of a Thai person.” A 24 year old man in Fukuoka City was asked, “Do roads in Korea reek of garlic?” A 28 year old man also in Fukuoka City who speaks Spanish said that he felt antipathy when people spoke to him in English.

On the other hand, over half of the respondents didn’t have such hurtful experiences.